Jimmy Carter Has Some Good News

Jimmy Carter confirmed melanoma spots on his brain are gone


The 91-year-old former US president made a welcome announcement Sunday to a crowd at a Baptist church in Georgia, where he teaches a Sunday school class.

After a battle with melanoma that had spread from his liver to his brain, Carter announced that his treatments had worked — he said he was cancer-free.

Carter also released a brief statement on the matter on the Carter Center website.

"My most recent MRI brain scan did not reveal any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones," according to the statement. "I will continue to receive regular three-week immunotherapy treatments of pembrolizumab."

Pembrolizumab (brand name Keytruda) is a drug used to treat non-small cell lung cancer and melanoma that has advanced to other parts of the body (metastasized). In Carter's case, melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, that started in his liver spread to his brain. Carter announced the four cancer spots found on his brain Aug. 20.

While undergoing treatment, which also included radiation therapy, Carter stayed busy teaching Sunday school and participating in a Habitat for Humanity build, reports Reuters.

In an early trial of the Merck & Co. drug pembrolizumab, which influenced its accelerated approval from the US Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 4 of last year, tumor size decreased by 24 percent on average in patients taking the drug. Reuters noted that only around 5 percent of patients achieve complete cancer remission with pembrolizumab. And the treatment is thought to extend melanoma patients' lives by around 1.5 years.

Melanoma is behind around 2 percent of skin cancer cases but causes a large portion of skin cancer-related deaths, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Nearly 74,000 new melanoma cases will be diagnosed in the US this year, according to ACS estimates. And around 10,000 patients are predicted to die from the disease.